Plum swimmers prepare for PIAA championships

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Friday, March 8, 2019 | 7:33 PM


Devan Taylor hopes for a repeat performance and more in the girls 100-yard breaststroke Saturday at the PIAA Class AAA championships at Bucknell.

The Plum senior was seeded ninth and positioned in the second-to-last heat of the preliminaries last year and swam a school-record 1 minute, 4.13 seconds to move into the championship heat later that day.

From there, Taylor ascended to the medals podium at states for the first time with an eighth-place finish.

She heads into the event this year as the 11th seed (1:04.59) after taking sixth at WPIALs on March 1.

“It’s a relaxing and calming effect to know what I need to do to get into the final heat,” Taylor said.

Taylor swam in the 200 individual medley at states last year, but her day-one swim this year comes in the 50 free after she made the switch heading into WPIALs.

The move paid dividends for Taylor who placed fifth (24.05) at WPIALs. She now hopes to make her move as the No. 19 seed.

The 50 free school record also is in Taylor’s sights. Hannah Adamski owns the mark of 23.95 set at the 2016 WPIAL championships.

The Class AAA state meet begins Friday with the 50 free and 200 IM, as well as the 200 medley relay, the 200 freestyle, the 100 butterfly and the 200 free relay.

Saturday features the 100 free, 500 free, the 100 backstroke and the 400 free relay in addition to the 100 breast.

This year, Taylor adds a third event as she will swim the 200 medley relay with senior Alexis Smith, junior Delanee White and freshman Elizabeth Glasspool. The quartet earned an eighth-place medal at WPIALs and lowered the school-record time to 1:48.71.

The relay is seeded 24th.

“After they set the record last year, they couldn’t wait to get back and try for it again,” Plum coach Shawn Haupt said. “They barely missed states last year and wanted redemption.”

Senior Justin Decheck posted two school-record swims and a pair of sixth-place finishes at WPIALs in the 200 free (1:44.15) and the 100 fly (50.84).

He heads to states seeded 11th in the 100 fly and 27th in the 200 free.

“Justin hasn’t smiled this much in the four years I’ve known him,” Haupt said. “He’s excited and ready to race again and do better at states. He continues to do everything asked of him and more. There’s no more deserving person than him.”

Taylor was the sole Plum representative at states the past two seasons.

“I am excited to again have teammates up there competing with me,” she said. “The atmosphere is just so exciting, and it pushes and motivates everybody to swim their best. We’ve been resting well and are ready to do our best at states.”

It was a momentous WPIAL meet individually for Glasspool as she placed 17th in the 100 fly and set a new school record of 59.12. The previous mark of 59.29 was set by Andrea Shuba in 2007.

Haupt said it was a special feeling to see the records fall and others drop time with season bests.

The boys 400 free relay of Justin Decheck, junior Joey Decheck and sophomores Jordan Rogers and Aaron Frederick cut its seed time by almost nine seconds and earned a seventh-place medal (3:16.68).

“It’s hard to put that into words,” Haupt said. “You always go in with the hope they will do well because you know they put the work in and it should pay off. It seemed like one swim after another it just kept getting better. I didn’t want the two days to end because things were going so well. The best part is when that kid touches the wall, looks at the time and looks back at me in almost disbelief. That was a look I got a lot at WPIALs. That’s why I do what I do in coaching. It’s an awesome feeling.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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